Bears offensive report card just good enough

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Bears offensive report card just good enough

Call it a workmanlike effort, nothing special, except that it was good enough to win. The offense finished with 296 yards and 13 points, lowest point total in a win since the 10-0 victory against the New York Jets in 2006.

The critical element was not turning the ball over in a close game and the Bears didnt, while defense and special teams were taking the ball away four times from the Detroit Lions.

QUARTERBACK C

Most of the breath left Soldier Field when Jay Cutler went down with a rib injury in the second quarter, bringing on Jason Campbell for a total of five plays.

Cutlers rollout and measured flip to Brandon Marshall produced the Bears first first-quarter TD since the Indianapolis game and only touchdown of the night. Cutler hurt the Lions with his scrambles in the first half, totaling 34 yards on three runs.

Passing was so-so, with 16 completions in 31 attempts for 150 yards and a 76.0 rating, but done in the face of five sacks.

RUNNING BACKS B

Matt Fortes 39-yard gallop through the Detroit right side set up the first Bears score and Forte finished with 96 yards on 22 carries in addition to three pass receptions, though for a net of four yards. Michael Bush added 36 yards on six carries.

The combination of backs averaged 4.7 yards per carry, many of the yards coming after first hits.

RECEIVERS B

Brandon Marshall had the better of Calvin Johnson for the evening, with a TD catch in the first quarter and two big third-down catches in the second, both for conversions. Marshall tied for the game high with six receptions for a total of 81 yards.

Devin Hesters 23-yard run with a fourth-quarter screen pass got the Bears out of a hole. He caught three of the six passes directed his way and combined with Earl Bennetts three to give some balance opposite Marshall, who faced double coverage much of the game.

Tight ends were not much of a factor receiving (one of four targets) but Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth and Kyle Adams contributed with run blocking.

OFFENSIVE LINE C-

Protection of Cutler in the first half was generally adequate but he was sacked five times in the game and hit another nine times. Cutler contributed to problems by holding the ball too long on occasion but he also was running from pressure too often.

Run blocking by left guard Chilo Rachal and left tackle JMarcus Webb broke Fortes big first-quarter run and the Bears were able to achieve some run-pass balance.

Gabe Carimi had a second straight difficult evening with a pair of penalties and Rachal took an ill-advised personal foul penalty in the fourth quarter. Robeto Garza was called for a pair of false starts.

COACHING B

Commitment to the run was critical against the Detroit pass rush from the front four. Coaches called 41 pass plays, including the four QB scrambles, and ran the ball 28 times against a defense stacked to take Matt Forte away.

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The Blackhawks were finally getting healthy and now may be missing a key player once again. That depends on how Niklas Hjalmarsson feels after suffering an upper-body injury against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.

It was certainly the toughest part of the Blackhawks' victory, a 6-3 triumph that has the Blackhawks closing in on the Wild. We'll see what the Hjalmarsson update is over the weekend. Until then, let's look at the notables from this one.

What Worked: The offense. We'll give an honorable mention to the penalty kill, which snuffed out all of the Coyotes' chances including a double minor that overlapped the second and third periods. But the offense was just buzzing again. Here's another shocker: the top line is still working just fine. The trio got things started with Nick Schmaltz's goal just 37 seconds into the game (Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik assisted). And much like in their meeting with the Coyotes earlier this month, the Blackhawks needed just about every bit of that offense. While we're on this topic...

What Didn't Work: The first-period defense. The Blackhawks looked like they were in good shape up 3-1 but then they gave up two goals within a minute late in the period. Michal Rozsival had a rough start in his first game since Jan. 15, but overall, the Blackhawks' defense through that first period looked discombobulated. Obviously, it didn't help that the Blackhawks lost Hjalmarsson during the first, either.

[RELATED: Patrick Kane nets hat trick as Blackhawks cruise past Coyotes]

Star of the game: Patrick Kane. One game after Jonathan Toews recorded a hat trick Kane did the same, scoring his 21st, 22nd and 23rd goals of the season. On a night in which the Blackhawks dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen, Kane got a little extra playing time. His first goal came on a first-period shift with Ryan Hartman and Tanner Kero, the second off a long pass from Brent Seabrook and the third with his usual line mates.

He Said It: "I didn't play much before I got hurt, then I missed four weeks with my injury. It wasn't easy but definitely the way the team's playing now, it made it easier for me. It felt like the first game of the season for me but glad we got the victory and glad I was back playing. I enjoyed it." — Michal Rozsival on returning to the Blackhawks' lineup. 

By the Numbers: 

6 – Number of times, in their last eight games, the Blackhawks have scored five or more goals.

342 – Assists for Jonathan Toews, who tied Dennis Hull for 12th all-time in franchise history in that category.

35 – Combined points for the Blackhawks' top liners Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik in their nine games together. The breakdown in those nine games: Toews has 16 points, Panik 10 and Schmaltz nine.

1997 – The last time the Blackhawks had hat tricks in back-to-back regular-season games. Alexei Zhamnov and Eric Daze had them on April 11 and April 13, 1997, respectively.